BRASELTON, Ga. – Freshman Keaton Jones shot a 1-over 73 to pace the FGCU men’s golf team at the first round of the Atlantic Sun Championship as the Eagles are tied for 8th place following a 312 total Sunday at The Legends Course of Chateau Elan.
Jones (Kitchener, Ontario/St. Mary’s HS) was making his first A-Sun Championship appearance and completed just his 10th round of the year – his first since FGCU’s spring-opening tournament Feb. 3-4. The Canadian started his round – like the rest of his teammates – on the 10th hole and made five straight pars before converting a birdie on the par-3, 155-yard 16th. A bogey on the par-4 17th leveled his scorecard at even as he made the turn to the front 9.
Another bogey on the third hole and a double bogey on the par-5 5th had Jones at +3 with only four holes remaining on his day. However, the youngster was able to gather himself and rolled in a birdie at the short, par-4 6th before making another on the par-5 9th to complete the 1-over round. The 73 for Jones was the best of his young career, one better than a 74 he fired in round two of the Pinetree Intercollegiate in October.
Kennesaw State leads the 10-team tournament as the Owls shot an even-par round of 288 to lead by two strokes over Mercer. FGCU is tied with Northern Kentucky, six shots clear of Stetson, just one behind USC Upstate and only eight strokes out of the top 5 with still two rounds remaining.
“I’m extremely pleased with the composure that Keaton showed today to lead us in the opening round as a freshman,” head coach Brent Jensen said of only Jones’s fourth contributing round of the year. “But overall everyone needs to improve in tomorrow’s second round and I’m confident that will happen.”
Behind Jones, who was the No. 5 player in Jensen’s lineup, sophomore Jake Sherwin (Fort Myers, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) finds himself in a tie for tie for 32nd following a round of 78. Junior transfer Blake Biggs (Peoria, Ill./Eastern Florida State College/Peoria Notre Dame HS), who like Jones is playing in his first A-Sun Championship, carded an 80 and is tied for 37th overall.
The Green and Blue’s two most experienced players in this week’s lineup – junior Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) and lone senior Matt Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS) – signed for rounds of 81 and 82, respectively.
The Legends Course at Chateau Elan, which is hosting the A-Sun Championship for the fifth straight year and sixth time in the last seven seasons, played extremely difficult through the opening 18 as only one hole – the short, 344-yard par-4 16th – came in under par on the day with an average of -0.14.
FGCU will be paired with Northern Kentucky and Stetson for Monday’s second round, and the Eagles’ lineup will begin action in nine-minute increments off the 10th tee between 8:45-9:21 a.m. Live scoring will be posted on Golfstat.com or by following the link at the top of this release, and updates will be available on Twitter @FGCU_MGolf throughout the tournament.
The 54-hole tournament is set to conclude on Tuesday. For comprehensive championship coverage, including photos, videos and more, log on to AtlanticSun.org or follow the link accompanying this release.
Atlantic Sun Championship Field (Golfstat Rankings)
1) #40 Kennesaw State: 288
2) #33 Mercer: 290
3) #53 North Florida: 295
4) #58 ETSU: 299
5) #182 Jacksonville: 304
6) #186 Lipscomb: 307
7) #98 USC Upstate: 311
T8) #111 FGCU: 312
T8) #238 Northern Kentucky: 312
10) #217 Stetson: 318